Israel conducted an airstrike against Iranian positions and a weapons manufacturing plant in Syria’s al-Safirah area southeast of Aleppo. SANA, the official Syrian News Agency, quoted an unnamed Syrian military official who said that the Israeli airstrike took place at 23:37 on Monday. 

“Our air defenses intercepted the missiles… shooting down most of them,” the official added, saying the targets were still being identified and the extent of the damage assessed.

Syrian opposition forces said the Israeli airstrike targeted Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases and a weapons plant.

The Israelis have frequently targeted the growing Iranian presence in Syria during the past year. 

The Syrian government has always played down the amount of Iranian personnel in the country, only the presence of a few advisors. However, Syrian military officials have said that Iran has a strong presence in northern Syria. These include elite Revolutionary Guard officers at the Kuweires military airbase.

Israeli airstrike in Syria
An Israeli airstrike in Syria from last December. (Reuters)

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a civilian watchdog of the Syrian civil war, said the missiles landed near the Scientific Studies Research Center in al-Safirah, destroying the Iranian base and a weapons depot used by Iranian-led militias. There are no reports of casualties.

Explosions were heard across the large metropolitan area of Aleppo, as authorities said work was underway to repair the main electricity cable to the city after a direct hit from a missile cut power.

The Israeli Defense Forces, as is their normal operating procedure, didn’t confirm or deny the airstrike with a military spokesman saying that the military doesn’t comment on foreign news reports. 

Israel’s Stance Against Iran Remains Unchanged

Although Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the civil war began about a decade ago, this was the first one conducted since the new Israeli government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office last month from longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett has pledged to maintain Netanyahu‘s policy of containing Iran’s military expansion in Syria and not allow Iranian bases on Israel’s borders. 

Israel has frequently targeted weapons and rocket shipments heading for Hezbollah, as well as weapons depots and manufacturing facilities.

The Iranian Quds Force has created several proxy militias with thousands of members who fought for the regime of Bashar al-Assad during the civil war. Many of those militias have attacked U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq. 

In late June, the United States conducted limited airstrikes on Iranian proxy militias that operate on the Iraqi-Syrian border in response to the many rocket attacks on the U.S. bases.